Two goals in two first-half minutes earned Bristol City a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough – their first of 2024 in the Sky Bet Championship.
Jason Knight’s cool finish in the 16th minute was followed by Matty James’ drive in off the woodwork as Boro failed to get going.
Bristol City’s first league win since Boxing Day was enough to lift Liam Manning’s side level on points with the Teessiders in mid-table.
Middlesbrough did create chances and Samuel Silvera made things interesting in the closing seconds by pulling one back, without knowing much about it.
But head coach Michael Carrick had to suffer another defeat, with Boro having won only one of their last seven home league games. They have also picked up just five points from the last available 15.
Even though the Robins – who came through 120 minutes of FA Cup football against Nottingham Forest in midweek – had not won since Boxing Day, they were quick to make an impression.
George Tanner had already volleyed into the arms of goalkeeper Tom Glover, who had also done well to dive to his right to deny Harry Cornick from hitting the opener soon after.
The only time Middlesbrough threatened during the first half was when Hayden Hackney failed to bring the ball down quickly enough when he was picked out at the back post by Luke Ayling.
And City’s quickfire double came along shortly after. Defender Rob Dickie picked out Knight with an incisive through pass.
With just Glover to beat, Knight turned and spun away from the goalkeeper and Lukas Engel before finding the empty net.
Within two minutes Bristol City were two up. Highly-rated Hackney was at fault for gifting possession to James and the visitors’ captain fired in off the post from 20 yards.
Hackney tried to make amends 14 minutes later when his effort from 25 yards curled away from the far post, with goalkeeper Max O’Leary diving to cover.
But City should have been three up before the break. Cornick’s excellent run and pass from inside his own half put Sam Bell clear.
Rather than round Glover, Bell tried to beat him with a shot and the goalkeeper was big enough to thwart. That was followed by an O’Leary low save at the other end from Finn Azaz.
O’Leary had to be alert to make a strong save from Greenwood at the start of the second half after he had been picked out by Azaz in the box.
The Bristol City keeper made an even better save soon after by rushing off his line to deny Greenwood, who had been played in behind by Azaz. Marcus Forss also drilled an effort on the turn narrowly wide.
Middlesbrough tried different things but Manning’s men defended well. O’Leary also had to make another strong save to stop Rav van den Berg’s 25-yard drive from flying in.
Greenwood thought he had scored with 12 minutes to go only for the officials to rule it out for a very close offside call.
Middlesbrough did pull one back in stoppage-time when Azaz’s shot hit the back of substitute Silvera before bouncing in but it proved too little, too late.